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History of the Tbilisi State University Museum
Museum activities at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University have a long history. Prior to the foundation of the University, the Society for the Dissemination of Literacy and the Georgian Historical-Ethnographic Society possessed the richest museum collections in Georgia, located at the Gymnasium for the Nobility that was built by the founder of TSU, Niko Tskhvedadze.
Once the University was founded in the same building, Giorgi Chubinashvili sent a request to the University Board and submitted a plan to open an “Art Cabinet” at the University, which was eventually transformed into a Museum. The main goal was to protect the many unique items of historical and artistic value at the University in appropriate conditions.
Over time, the University became a powerful educational and scientific institution that needed objects and materials of all kinds to illustrate the subjects taught. When the University was founded, a decision of the Board of Professors mandated the purchase of collections for different scientific topics. Academics and students were also involved in the process of acquiring collections. Frequently the collections were enriched by donations. For example, the Museum collections include the photographic negatives and photos by the famous Russian photographer, Dimitri Ermakov; the entomological collection of Dimitri Maliuzhenko; relief maps of the Caucasus; Dimitri Kundurov’s mineralogical collection; a collection of chemistry preparations etc. The University Museum also keeps the artist Dimitri Shevardnadze’s seal that was used on many important documents. Later, the seal became the Coat of Arms of Tbilisi State University.
Following the Bolshevik Russian occupation of Georgia in 1921, valuable objects were brought from other Georgian museums to be safe-guarded at Tbilisi University, from where the treasure was taken abroad, supervised by one of the University founders, Ekvtime Takaishvili, who followed other notable exiles to France, taking these treasures of national culture with him. In 1924, an unused “prayer house” on the University grounds was renovated to accommodate the “Georgian Art Museum”, created by Giorgi Chubinashvili. Over time, the unique collections
were re-distributed to other specialized institutions and museums, and the Representative Council of TSU decided to house the Tbilisi State University Museum in this structure. The museum has been enriched through the dedicated contributions of its employees, by the collections of TSU’s founders as well as by public figures with direct links to the university.
Tbilisi State University Museum consists of the following sections: